The in situ assessment of axonal projections of the brain has been severely limited by the lack of noninvasive techniques to study this type of anatomy. We show here that in vivo three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction of axonal projections can be achieved using a rapid 3D high-resolution diffusion-weighted imaging technique combined with a recently designed fiber reconstruction algorithm. As a first example, neuronal pathways in the rat brain were probed. Eight well-known fiber projections; genu and splenium of corpus callosum, internal and external capsule, fimbria, anterior commissure, optic tract, and stria terminalis were tracked and shown to be in agreement with the location of these known axonal projections. The experiment took 2 hr and shorter times should be possible in the clinical situation. By combining anisotropy information with fiber tracking, the anisotropy of individual projections was also documented. Magn Reson Med 42:1123-1127, 1999.
Copyright 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.